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The Most Heartbreaking Episode From Criminal Minds Season 10

"Criminal Minds" thrilled viewers for 15 suspense-filled seasons. Even after the CBS drama wrapped up in 2020, the series continues to be a favorite among crime TV fans, often topping lists of the best crime TV shows of all time (via Parade). One of the reasons fans have stayed so loyal to "Criminal Minds" is surely because of its unique approach to solving crimes. Unlike other shows in the genre that typically use evidence and witness interviews to catch criminals, the members of the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit use criminal profiling in the hopes of catching criminals before they act again. It's a winning blend of psychology tactics with criminal investigation that has truly won viewers over.

Of course, given the job description of the BAU, the team has to investigate some horrific crimes. Nothing is really off the table in "Criminal Minds," as the team has dived into crimes including murder, sexual assault, kidnapping, and just about every horror you can imagine. All of that to say, episodes can get pretty sad, to say the least. One episode from Season 10 is particularly heartbreaking, but for a different reason than you might think.

The death of Jason Gideon rocked the BAU

In Season 10 of "Criminal Minds," the episode titled "Nelson's Sparrow" proves to be especially heartbreaking. In this episode, veteran criminal profiler Jason Gideon (Mandy Patinkin) winds up murdered at his cabin while investigating an elusive serial killer. Old school "Criminal Minds" fans will recognize Gideon from the first few seasons as the founder of the Behavioral Analysis Unit. As the best criminal profiler, Gideon led the unit up until his sudden departure in Season 3, and David Rossi (Joe Mantegna) took over.

This episode is particularly tragic because you see firsthand the impact Gideon had on his former BAU team. Dr. Spencer Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler) takes Gideon's death especially hard and has to tearfully compose himself before heading to the crime scene. The episode is also hard to watch when Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness) recounts Gideon's love for mint-chip ice cream after finding some in his fridge. Then, the floodgates are surely open by the end of the episode if they weren't already when Hotchner (Thomas Gibson) and Rossi chat about the time Gideon was dared to sled down a steep hill. The heartbreaking episode closes out with an equally touching narration from Hotchner, "When a good man is hurt, all who would be called good must suffer with him. Euripides."